How to remove Windows (Desktop) Search … revisited

In October last year, I posted an article on how to remove Windows Desktop Search from an XP machine after it had been unhelpfully installed as a mandatory upgrade. The world has moved on since then and version 3 of Windows Desktop Search has been replaced by version 4, which is now called Windows Search. This means the name of the uninstall folder has changed and the information in that post is becoming ever more out of date. As it still accounts for 80% of the traffic to my site, I figured it was time for an update.

If you have version 3 of Windows Desktop Search and want to remove it, please refer to the old post. If you have version 4, read on. If you are unsure which one you have, press the windows key and F together to start up the application and look at the image that appears toward the top right of the window. If it says “Windows Desktop Search”, then you have version 3. If it says “Windows Search”, then you have version 4.

Windows Desktop Search (version 3)
Windows Desktop Search (version 3)
Windows Search (version 4)
Windows Search (version 4)

To remove Windows Search version 4 from XP, try the following steps:

  1. Start by running up Add & Remove Programs from the control panel and look for Windows Desktop Search in the list. Unlike with version 3, Windows Search v4 should be there.
  2. If not, open a cmd window (click on Start, then “Run..” and type cmd in the Run dialogue that then appears). Then copy and paste the following line into the cmd window:
  3. If that also fails and you get a “The system cannot find the path specified.” error, then I have zipped up a copy that you can download from here. To work out where to extract it to, type:

    into your cmd window and note the location it points to (it is likely to be C:\Windows, but may not be if you upgraded to XP for Windows 2000 for example). Open the zip file, and extract the $NtUninstallKB940157$ to this location. Now repeat step 2.

Update: Thanks to “Derek” for pointing out to me that I’d missed the “bleedin’ obvious”, ie that v4 can be removed via “Add Remove Programs”. I’ve added this as step 1 as a consequence. Steps 2 and 3 are likely redundant, but I’ve left them in for completeness.